Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Honored ...

To be honored is a pretty cool thing, to be honored by your peers is impressive, to be honored by those you love is a great testimony and to be honored by your creator is an eternal blessing.

Last week I had the privilege to attend a couple of events in which one of my uncles was honored by his peers, and those who loved him were a part of it as well. My uncle was a farmer during his working years and he was also a high school basketball referee. He did well at nearly everything he did in life, at least that is my perception. How did as a referee is not perception, it is fact. He was great. Last week he was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. How impressive is that?

He officiated for 32 years and then was an evaluator of officials for 15-20 years. He was good, the biggest schools and biggest rivalries wanted him. He was chosen to officiate the State Championship game 3 times. That was when Indiana was still in one class basketball, he officiated in 3 other final fours. He enjoyed what he did and never forgot that it was about the athletes not the officials. He never called attention to himself, he never showboated and he never showed up any player or coach. He was very good and he was recognized and honored last week. I vividly remember when he officiated one of my high school games. We were playing a cross town rival, before you react to the whole family thing and how could he objective as my uncle you need to know a couple of things. I didn't play that much and my uncle never showed favoritism. Toward the end of the game, which we lost by double digits, I took a shot that I missed and we fouled the other team on the rebound. As he ran down the court to award the free throw my uncle came by me and said "I was rooting for you on that shot". It might be the closest he ever came to favoritism in his career. A quote that my aunt shared is a great word picture of my uncle's attitude. "Throughout my career I continued to officiate for the big schools and the little schools. There was no difference in how those young athletes wanted to win a game. I always gave my best to the game regardless of the size of the schools represented."

I was so proud to be a part of the festivities, to pay tribute to my uncle and to represent my family at the event. The Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame is a really big deal. High School basketball is a really big deal in Indiana. I grew up with the lottery system for people to even get a ticket to the state tournament games. People also scalped tickets to these games. I attended, played in and coached games that were standing room only. The largest crowd I ever played in front of was over 8,000. So you see this honor for my uncle is a big deal.

My uncle was also honored by those who loved him. He was honored during his lifetime often, he was honored by a full table at the banquet last week, he was honored by the ads taken by family to celebrate his induction and he is honored by our memories of him. He was a practical joker and quite a story teller. I loved to listen to his stories, except when they were about me (even then I kind of enjoyed them). He smiled a lot and laughed a lot. His wife of so many years still beams today at the thought of him, though she misses him terribly. He also loved his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He has been honored by his creator with the greatest honor. He has heard "Well done". My uncle would tell you that honor from his Lord was the greatest, followed closely by those who loved him and then the Hall of Fame. You see he is already in the greatest hall of fame.

What honor are you seeking?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday Morning Musings ...

What a fun day yesterday. At least some of it was fun and I am working on my attitude therefore it was a fun day no matter what you think. But you think it was a fun day as well, don't you? Yesterday several of our youth shared in the ministry and we received a special offering for them as they head toward a great event to share their talents. We had 3 of them sing special songs, 2 played piano solos, others displayed artwork, photography or creative writing. Some of them will be participating in athletic events, so rather than have them shoot hoops, spike a volleyball, run around the worship center or bowl down the aisles they were ushers and greeters. It added a certain energy to the morning. Some of it was not unusual at all as we have 1 or 2 youth on our worship team nearly every Sunday. I love that about our church.

The spirit was pretty good in the service, the attendance was very good, though people were not as engaged as they often are, it was still a good time as we sang and were ministered to by the youth specials. I continued my series on "The Lies We Believe" using Titus 3:3-8 as the foundation. The lie we looked at this week was "I have to understand it all to live it". I hear this one often, both in and out of the church. Those who do not claim to be followers of Christ say it as a reason they are not following and those who claim to be followers say it as a reason why they are not moving forward. This results in people not accepting the truth because they don't understand or know it all. Yet there are so many things in life we use and accept without understanding or complete knowledge. From medicine, to cars, to electricity, to our NCAA March Madness brackets we rarely allow our incomplete understanding to stop us from participation. Another result is when believers say they are going to stay right where they are until God shows them everything about the next step. So where is faith? What is staying put is more dangerous than the next step? I could go on and on about this one but I know you would not read it all. The truth is Christ appeared and showed his love to us and Christ has called to you and said "follow me". But Christ doesn't leave us hanging on this following stuff, he also promised to never leave us. That is not a guarantee that there will be not problems or dangers, but that he will not leave us no matter what we face. I love the promise at the end of Titus 3:8, "These things are excellent and profitable for everyone."

In what ways do you see this lie around you? Have you believed this lie recently? So what will you do now?

The Lord woke me about 2 am on Sunday and impressed this message upon me, I had another one prepared. So I made the change, it is his message after all not mine. That meant no notes up on the screens. I did type up a new outline for people to fill in and follow. The old teacher in me just can't help it. I tried to really share my heart and burden for those of us who claim to be followers of Christ to really be following his direction. To quit making so many excuses and really take it to heart and live it out. Not just a saying, not just a nod of the head, but living it out in our homes, our work places, our schools, our neighborhoods and communities. I never feel that I really share my burden adequately, but I keep trying. (see my previous post)

Sunday evening in my group was a great time of study and discussion. I wrapped up the study on marriage relationships. We dealt with forgiveness and restoration. It was a really open and meaningful study and discussion that did not stop until well after the group time was over. I really enjoyed it.

You can see there were a lot of fun things about Sunday. It did have it's battles and I had to really fight against the distractions. The distractions were important and need to be dealt with, but I did not want them to derail the day.

Here's hoping you will really choose to follow Christ, his words and his will for your life and live it wherever God has placed you.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

What Disturbs You?

Why do we pay more attention to some political statement than we do the words of Jesus? Why are we more upset by the weather than the poor around us? Why are we more disturbed by the our NCAA March Madness brackets getting wrecked (mine are gone) than we are those who are abused next door?

What disturbs you? The truth is the words of Jesus disturb me. They mess with the way I live if I take them to heart. To follow Christ means a change of thinking and living. It is not a casual thing. Following Christ should really mess with your life. That is why we use the word "conversion". But are we really converting to Christ and his ways or are we trying to make him fit our way of living?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Following ... really?

I am really wrestling with how those of us who call ourselves followers of Christ work so hard at not actually following Him. Think about it, we read His words and see His example and then argue about how it doesn't really apply to us. I am trying to figure out how you follow Christ without following Him. Can you explain that one to me?

Some time ago I read that nearly all Christians desire to serve Christ and His Church, but only in an advisory capacity.

Let me ask the question again, the one I have been hearing in my heart for a while, What if Jesus really meant all that stuff He said?

Can you really follow Christ without following His words and His example? I can't figure out how it can be done. Can you?

Wouldn't our energy be more wisely used just following Him and His words? Rather than working so hard to figure out how to follow without following? Or, how to follow while ignoring His words?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday Morning Musings ...

Yesterday was a good day. There was a great spirit as we moved into a time of prayer during worship. I continued the message series on "The Lies We Believe", using Titus 3:3-8 as the foundation. This week the lie we exposed was "That doesn't apply to me". This lie is so prevalent that many people are surprised to learn it is lie. You hear it all the time, sometimes from your own lips, you see and hear it in the media all the time. Anybody hear Tiger Woods interview? At least he now admits it was a lie.

The results of the lie include believing that the consequences of your choices don't apply to you. This is a very dangerous deception. It leads to risky living that hurts the person living it and all those connected to them. Believing this lie shows a lack of looking ahead to what's next. Example: a pig ate his fill of acorns under an oak tree and then started to root around the tree. A crow remarked, 'You should not do this. If you lay bare the roots, the tree will wither and die.' 'Let it die,' said the pig. 'Who cares as long as there are acorns?' It will always lead to disobedience of God, his Word and his will for your life.

Another result of this lie is believing that the promises don't apply to you. This is nearly as dangerous as not believing the consequences are for you. This causes you not to do what you know you should, that is disobedience as well. This result can cause you to give up emotionally, and believing this can lead to refrains such as "God doesn't love me", or "What does God have against me?"

The truth is that we all have sinned and all of God's word applies to us, see Romans 3:22-24. The truth is you are loved. You are special to God. it is obvious in his words, his look and his body language. Have you ever considered the look in God's eyes when he thinks of you? If you mention one of my children, my grandkids or my wife the look in my eyes and on my face will reveal to you that they are special to me and I love them. God has that look, it is even multiplied over my look, whenever He considers you. How awesome is that picture? God's body language was obvious when he willing went to the cross in your place. As for His words check out John 3:16-17 and John 23:33-34. The truth is you are not alone, God said, "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you." The truth is all of God's provisions are available to you. You don't have to do this only in your own strength.

Have you believed this lie? Do you know someone who needs to know this truth? What will you do with this truth now?

A shout out to my 5 year old granddaughter who is ahead of her father after 2 rounds in our family March Madness bracket contest!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Don't Panic ...

Some of my recent posts have stirred a lot of thoughts and questions among those who read it and those to whom they have shared their impression of what I wrote or what they think I meant by what I wrote. I think that is great. I love to stir things up and help get people thinking of things differently, or evaluating their comfortable spaces. However, a few people have been really shook up by some of what I have shared. Some have thought I was mad at them specifically. Some have worried that I was cracking up (always a valid concern for me I guess). Some have worried about me and what I am going to do next. Some haven't read anything I have written, so they don't understand all the fuss.

Let me just say Don't Panic. I am not fine and that is a good thing. God is working on me, in fact I have complained that He seems to be putting in overtime on me recently. I don't know what all of this means for the future, but I am excited to find out, I think. It can't be bad when God is working on me can it? (The correct answer is no, in case you were still pondering the question.)

The panic should be when God is not working on me. That would mean I am not listening, and if I am not listening I am not likely to be following His plan. This is a painful time for me as God is reforming me. But it is also awesome.

I think some of the panic is because we in the church are not used to seeing, or hearing, too many other believers being open and honest about struggles and about wrestling with God. This is especially true of those of us who are called Pastor. Sadly it seems to me that this should be normal, not surprising. Some will say that I should work these things out in private. That makes me laugh. First, you have no idea of how much I am not sharing with you of my wrestling. Second, part of my reforming and repairing comes from my interaction with other Christ followers who comfort or confront me. It is that whole iron sharpening iron thing that the Bible mentions.

So don't panic. Enjoy the ride. Help the cause. While you are at it, ask God what you should be wrestling with and how you should be reformed. You might be surprised.

Here's to the journey.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Random Thoughts ...

Since my last several posts have rather heavy, and have worried some people and even caused more than a few wonder "who is he ticked at?" (see post on What's the Difference?) I thought some random thoughts were overdue.

*Wow that opening sentence was long.
*I love March Madness. Our family does a big contest picking all the games. Even those who married in and don't follow college basketball are required to participate. It was in their wedding vows. 3 of my grandkids participated last year.
*I am loving the warmer weather. Winter is a favorite season of mine, but when March arrives it is time for it to be gone.
*Looking forward to going fishing and golfing.
*Especially looking forward to fulfilling 2 Christmas gifts. One for a day of fishing with my second oldest grandchild and the other, 18 holes of golf with my oldest grandchild.
*Fantasy Baseball draft is less than 2 weeks away. It is always a highlight night for the year. Can't wait to see old friends, trash talk, make fun of each other, eat junk food and draft a team that will kick their tails. All in love of course.
*Not liking a cat that has decided a bush by our front porch is home, which means out door litter box. I wonder if the cat knows I have a shotgun. Just kidding!
*Looking forward to attending some track meets to see some of my volleyball girls, and kids from our youth group, run.
*Looking forward to watching some softball and baseball played by the above group as well.
*I think I need a vacation.
*I think I can't take a vacation for a while.
*I think you don't care about my vacation.
*I think I think too much sometimes.
*Looking forward to watching basketball games until my eyes bleed this weekend.
*I love my wife. She is awesome.We will celebrate anniversary #35 this year.
*When did weather forecasters become stars?
*I am a Cubs fan. Maybe this is the year. Don't worry I am in therapy.
*I am looking forward to doing a lot of grilling. Come on over I love to grill for people. (You don't know where I live? Good point.)
*Is anyone else thinking of converting their car to run on cooking grease from restaurants?
*The Colts lost? You have got to be kidding me! I think I blocked that out.
*Next week I will attend a ceremony where my Uncle will be inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. That is going to be awesome. If he were still here he might be speechless, which would be a big deal. I believe it is overdue and certainly well deserved. My Aunt is going to be so proud. So am I.
*If long distance calls on cell phones are free why is my bill so high?
*I married way out of my league. Don't laugh you probably did too.
*I have 2 more grandkids on the way. One is due the in less than a month. The other does not have a due date yet, the adoption process is still underway.
*I am never sure if people are really listening when I preach or if they have just learned to nod and sleep with their eyes open.
*As long as this list of thoughts has become I bet some of you agree that I think too much at times, like right now.
*I love spicy food.
*I am really hungry.
*I think, there I go again, that I will end this list now.

Have a great day!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday Musings ...

Yesterday had some ups and downs, most days do I guess.

The class I have been teaching in the evenings was a lot of fun. We had some good, and some funny, discussion. It really seemed that every one was engaged and tracking along with the lesson. I love those kind of moments.

In the morning I continued the series on "The Lies We Believe", using Titus 3:3-8 as the foundation. The lie we looked at this week was "No One Else Looks Out For You" usually expressed as "you better look out for #1, because nobody else will". This is a pretty prominent lie in our culture. Some of the results of this lie are selfishness and isolation. This leads to a real longing for connection and community, it also reinforces the lie emotionally. From the very beginning, Adam and Eve, this lie has led to disobedience. The truth is that God gave his life for you, John 3:16-17 spell this out clearly. You have the opportunity to become a child of God and therefore become an heir of God's. How is that for a legacy? Goes right in the face of the lie.

This lie is a tough one to overcome become it is so widely accepted. Following Christ requires that we go the opposite direction from this lie. To follow Christ means that we are willing to give for others and to others, to literally put them first. This will change your life and the lives of those you touch.

Where have you heard this lie? How have you been seduced by this lie? What will you do with the truth?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

What's the Difference?

What's the difference between holy discontent and just being ticked off?

I am open to suggestions.

I am trying to figure out whether I am just ticked off about some things, which is my issue that I need to get over, or whether what I am feeling is holy discontent over some things that really should be different.

Any help on discerning the difference?

I don't want to get over it if it is God nudging me. But I don't want to excuse it if it just me being ticked off about some things. Or, if it is me being ticked off I want to figure out whether it is legit.

So, what's the difference?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Now What?

I feel as if the Lord is showing me things every day recently. He seems to be reforming me. A man in my congregation pulled me aside last Sunday. With tears in his eyes he said that in the past few weekds he is seeing me melt in God's hands as I preach. My eyes are filling with tears as I type this post. (I will use that as an excuse for any spelling or errors in grammar contained in this post.) So if God is melting me, and reforming me, what's next? What does being reformed look like?

For the past 2 plus months I have felt such a strong burden before I preach each week that is nearly overwhelming. Each week I feel that the messages are so vital that I can literally feel them in my gut. Not the "I just just preached a stinker" feeling. (Unfortunately I know that stinker feeling all too well.) This is a sense that what I am trying to preach is so important that I have to make sure it is heard and applied.

The being reformed feeling is that the Lord is working on me more than anyone else. Everything I read seems to apply to the messages. I had an allergic reaction to some medication and one of my first thoughts was "I can use this in one of these messages." So what does this all mean? Now what? I don't know, but I am excited and nervous about what it might mean.

So here I go, now what Lord?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Turning the Tables ...

Yesterday I called a friend who has been going through some difficult things to see how they were doing. The purpose of the call was to find out how he was doing and to attempt to encourage him. The first part of the purpose was accomplished. I got good information on how everything was going and it will allow me to pray more specifically for him. The second half of the purpose, not so much. In fact, while my purpose was to encourage him, he turned the tables and proceeded to encourage me.

He asked how I was doing, not your generic "How ya' doing?", but a sincere inquiry into how I was really doing. You know the difference between those two when someone asks. He was concerned about me. It is possible that he was just trying to deflect attention away from himself, but I know him well enough to know that he was truly concerned for me.

It was great and frustrating all at the same time. Great to know that someone cared and that someone who cares was that perceptive. Frustrating when I was trying to encourage him and suddenly I was talking about me.

It shows his character and how truly compassionate he is, though he will not like reading this blog post.

In a way I am trying to figure out if I am more encouraged by his concern for me, or ticked that I didn't accomplish my purpose of encouraging him.

Can you relate in any way?

Monday, March 08, 2010

Monday Musings ...

Yesterday was a very powerful day, at least for me personally it was powerful. Our time of singing seemed to really touch hearts. The Lord was really dealing with me as we sang. Some of our young children played a special song with handbells. It is always special to have children minister, to see their enthusiasm and willingness to serve is encouraging. Our attendance was good, which is usually encouraging and always good to see.

The message continued the series "The Lies We Believe", using Titus 3:3-8 as the foundation. This week I began the message with the question "What if Jesus meant the stuff He said?" (See yesterday's post.) and spoke about our preference to study about Jesus rather than follow Jesus, and how that leads to us so easily believing the lies. The Lie we examined is "You Can't Do Anything About It". This manifests itself with a couple of other lies. The first is "This is just way it is, or this is just the way you are". Our culture seems to love this lie and it has become a popular excuse for many things. It is really a lie of hopelessness. Martin Luther countered this lie many centuries ago when he said, "no one has ever fallen so grievously that he may not rise again". The other side of the big lie is the one that says "The problem is just too big for you". After all, what can one person do anyway? If everyone bought this lie then nothing of significance would ever be attempted, let alone accomplished.

The truth is that we have hope if we believe on Jesus. There is no need to live hopelessly because God is still God no matter what we are facing. The truth also tells us that we don't have to rely on our strength alone. Philippians 4:13 says, "I can everything through him who gives me strength." Another part of the truth to counter the lies is that God has been generous with us. Titus 3:5b-6 says "...by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior." God is not stingy with what he provides.

Mother Teresa said, "We can do no great things, just small things with great love."

I finished the message with these two questions, "When was the last time someone mistook you for Jesus?" And, "When was the last time someone saw Jesus when they saw you?"

Jesus has really been messing with me recently. As I really attempt to follow Jesus, not just study about following him, I am confronted by areas where I am certainly weak. As I have been confronted with that question "What if Jesus meant the stuff he said?" I have to compared my actions with those of Jesus. That comparison falls short way too often. Though it is not fun going through this process it is necessary if I really want to live a holy life. Kierkegaard said, "The Bible is very easy to understand...We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly."

So how are you doing?

Sunday, March 07, 2010

What if ...

I posed this question to begin my message this morning, "What if Jesus meant the stuff He said?"

What do you think?

Be careful how you answer.

I am convinced He positively meant it. Here is the catch, if He meant it what changes do you have to make in your living to match what He said? (I told you to be careful.)

If Jesus meant the stuff He said, then why do so many who claim to be followers of His prefer to study what He said rather than live what He said?

What if we really started living this stuff?

Friday, March 05, 2010

Annoying ...

Today I was in a grocery store, I had a few items and saw that there was an express checkout line for 6 items or less. I got in line quickly (as all the other lines were very long and those people had a lot more than 6 items in their carts), then I counted my items and to my relief I had exactly 6. I noticed a person in front of me that had many more than 6 items. At about this same time another person got in line behind me and noticing the person in front of me commented about how many items were in their cart. Then this person proceeded to tell the person that they shouldn't be in this line with that many items. Seconds later the person with the excess items (understand this cart had to have at least 20 items in it) seemed to suddenly realize how many items were in the cart and said "What am I thinking, I have more than 20 items." This person then moved to another checkout, a non-express line.

This got me thinking about annoying things people seem to often do, at times I think they do them just to annoy me. Do you know what I mean? How could you, you don't know what annoys me?

Meanwhile I proudly stood in line with my 6 items. I am pretty sure those around me were secretly admiring me for being in the correct line, they were just to shy to speak up and compliment me. Then this got me to thinking about whether God ever gets annoyed with our actions. That didn't take long to consider, I am sure he does. So what annoys God? I am fairly sure that the incorrect number of items in a grocery cart are not in his top 100.

I wondered if I every do anything to annoy anyone. If you only know me through these blog posts then let me assure you that I wouldn't annoy you. If you actually know me but no longer live where you come into consistent contact with me then I assume that I may on the rarest of occasions annoy you, but it could be your fault. Have you ever considered that? If you live near enough to have regular contact with me then just ignore this post and don't answer this question.

Back to what annoys God. Wow, that really made me pause to consider that I could get so easily annoyed by a few too many items in a grocery cart (at least 14 too many!!!)when there are so many things that are so much bigger that should have my attention. God, I am sorry for annoying you at times, er... sometimes, okay nearly everyday, help me to stay focused on what matters most. Help me to not get so hung up on the little things that so often annoy me, and steal my time and attention from what matters most. (But there were at least 20 items in the cart in a line for people with no more than 6!!! This may be harder than I thought.)

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Finish Matters Most ...

I did a funeral today. "Did a funeral" doesn't sound good but it is the phrase most often used about a pastor leading, speaking or doing a funeral. It was for a man that I knew fairly well and yet not well at all. My first encounter with him was when the family called because the doctor said he probably wouldn't make it through the night and they should call family and a minister. I was selected as the minister and I went to the hospital, met the family and prayed with them and the patient. We talked a lot that night. I returned the next day, he was hanging on and doing a little better. My wife and I were leaving on vacation that day, in fact when we went to the hospital the car was already packed. I gave the family my cell phone number asked them to keep me informed. He continued to improve and by the time I returned from a week's vacation he was back in a care facility. That began a nearly 4 year experience of visits 2 to 4 times a month.

I got to know him and he got to know me. We each enjoyed the visits, at least he said he enjoyed them, and looked forward to them. As I got to know him I also introduced him to a good friend of mine, Jesus Christ. Through time he learned more and eventually made a decision to accept Christ's forgiveness. He had two major surgeries, which the doctors were not sure he would survive. He had a another time of us not being sure he would make it around Thanksgiving last year. He became known as the comeback kid. He wasn't a kid, but you get the idea.

As his health deteriorated I kept probing on his relationship with Christ and he assured me that it was still good. In fact just a couple of weeks ago, sensing we might not have a lot of time left, I asked him if his relationship was good and up to date. He responded firmly that it was good. He couldn't comeback this time and went to be with Jesus last weekend. Today we honored him and had the mix of emotions as we held his funeral.

I said at the beginning that I knew him fairly well and yet not well at all. What I meant was that I knew his final years, as he was mainly confined to bed and a care facility. I didn't know him as he was younger and active. I knew a lot about those years, but I learned a lot more in the past few days. But what really struck me today was that it is not the beginning, but the finish that matters most. You see he didn't live for Christ for most of his life, but in the end he received him as his savior. The finish was most important. Don't misunderstand me, the start and the middle matter a lot, but they can be overcome if we finish well.

I coached cross country for many years. It is distance racing, I know those sound like contradictory terms. The start of the race was important, the middle counted too, but it was only the finish that was recorded and remembered. The papers never published starting positions and no ribbons or medals were given for leading at the mid-point. What was recorded and rewarded was the finish.

How will you finish? No matter where you are right now, you can still finish well.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Monday Morning Musings ...

Yesterday was a good day. We had very good weather for the last day of February and given our snow issues a few days earlier last week it made Sunday's weather seem that much better. Our time of singing went well with people fairly well engaged. We had a nice set up into prayer time and people seemed to be connected and praying during this time of worship. The special music went well and helped set up the sermon. Our attendance made a decent bounce back after being so low last week.

The message was the second in the series "The Lies We Believe", from Titus 3:3-8. We are looking at the deception of Satan, and from ourselves and culture and comparing it to the truth of God. This week the lie was "This is what you deserve". There are two camps of people acting on this lie. The first group are in what I call the "Pleasure group". They believe this lie and use it meet all their pleasure desires. The old if it feels good do it mentality. They believe that they deserve it and have many reasons why they believe they deserve it. So they feed their passions and keep seeking more and more pleasure for themselves often with no regard to impact on other people's lives. The devastation of other lives in the seeking of pleasure for ourselves is enormous. This can be seen in many addictions that began as pleasure seeking for ourselves. The second camp are those who are "Enslaved" and bound because of what has happened to them. This would include those who have been abused and many other issues that have been done to people. Often this creates hatred, hatred of others for hurting us and hatred of ourselves for allowing it. Hate is corrosive and destroys us more than it hurts the other person. There is usually a feeling of helplessness and not believing anything can change. People often begin to believe that God hates them as well.

The truth that counters the lie is that "You are loved, and can live as God's child". This is not because of our abilities but because of God's mercy and grace. Because "the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared", Titus 3:4. The truth is stronger than the lie, but people do have to accept and act on the truth. They need to be willing to allow into their life, which is difficult if they have embraced the lie for a long time. The great news is that the truth is stronger than the lie and those of us who have accepted it need to be living it so others will have the courage to let go of the lie and instead embrace the truth.

It is time for those who claim to be following Christ to live the truth and embrace those who are caught up in the lies. To show Christ love, acceptance and forgiveness in how we live, not just what we say. We need to not waste the precious, and powerful, gift that God has given.

It was difficult to even get up and preach because this truth is overwhelming me and I am so burdened for the needs all around me. I so want to make sure that my life counts for what matters most, to show people Christ's love and see many accept it for themselves.